Do you know where all your tools & equipment are at any one time?

Keeping track of precious company assets has long been a challenge, especially in the construction industry where tools have to move around from site to site and be allocated to different jobs.

As businesses are facing more pressures on costs, the last thing they need is to spend money on replacing lost or stolen equipment or face frustrating project delays due to the right tools not being available when they should be.

If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into asset tracking solutions, there’s never been a better time. When you tot up potential costs to your business through poor inventory management, inaccurate billing and usage tracking, the right asset management solution will pay for itself in no time. An added benefit would be preventing theft and mitigating the need to replace equipment in order to keep jobs running to schedule.

Simply put, tool asset management is about knowing exactly what tools you have, where they’re going, and where they’ve been!

Streamlined tool management procedures are important for saving costs and optimizing operations in many workplaces.

How could a tool asset management solution be used?

Today’s asset tracking and monitoring solutions are quick easy to deploy, with many different combinations of trackers and sensors available that enable you to track even the smallest of tools such as electric drills, saws and other static equipment as well as the larger plant machinery which may have traditionally been included in a GPS vehicle tracking solution.

Common problems that can be overcome with an asset tracking solution

What’s important when you track tools? Below is a list of common issues that construction site managers face that an asset tracking solution can help with:

  • Location: knowing where all your tools are at any one time means you can get your job organised and started quickly.
  • Insight into usage: See how your tools are being used in everyday tasks and help plan maintenance checks and replacement budgeting.
  • Save time: No more excess working hours spent looking for missing tools
  • Record keeping: No more manual logs of jobs. Access to historical and real-time reporting.
  • Inventory management & admin errors: no more ineffective tool inventories. Know exactly what you have available at any time.
  • Inflated costs: Lower maintenance and operational costs are achieved by optimising the flow of supplies and materials to employees.
  • Security: know that your potentially dangerous equipment is securely stored at the end of a job.

How does the technology work?

There are many different solutions available using Bluetooth, GPS & cellular technology., and we have access to a variety of technologies which can be mixed and matched and integrated into one simple platform so all your assets are tracked together. As science and technology develop, the communication protocols are reaching further and using less and less power which really opens up new opportunities and hardware.

You may ask “How can I make tracking an £80 grinder viable, and how can this work on the same system as a large tool worth over £1200.00?”

This is all possible with the right approach. A hardware agnostic IoT system that can integrate multiple pieces of hardware and communication protocols has the flexibility to manage a variety of assets. Effectively you are able to set up your own internal networks which we would call a mesh network and this is how it works:

  1. Each location (be this a site or a van) can have some kind of gateway which is connected to the management platform.
  2. This gateway can then check the presence of each tool. For example, if a van should have 15 tools inside, each tool could have a cost-effective Bluetooth tag (from £7.50-£25.00 per tag) and would communicate with the gateway which then communicates to the management platform.

Bluetooth® Low Energy Technology for Tool Crib Management

We are able to offer an integrated Bluetooth Low Energy solution that requires pairing a Bluetooth Gateway with Bluetooth Tags to capture vital location data. This is an affordable alternative for tool asset management, as you are choosing a low-cost device that can be mounted to every tool or piece of equipment you have.

The gateways feature GPS and Bluetooth 5.0 to provide GPS location and detection of nearby Bluetooth signals. These devices can be placed in the tool crib and spread out across assets on the worksite. The battery technology in the tags is exceptional, even with high interval alerts set up you can expect them to run for up to 5 years before you need to replace them.

There is also an industrial Bluetooth tag variant, which can be mounted on high-value tools, smaller equipment, or any non-powered mid-size assets where there is no commercial sense for a larger (and more expensive) unit.

Bluetooth Tag Features

The tag is packed with features, making it the leading device for tool and asset management:

  • Up to 5 years of battery life, so will not need constant replacement
  • Bluetooth 5.0 for sending asset data to Gateways
  • Powered by 2 x AAA off-the-shelf, user-replaceable batteries
  • Weatherproof and ultra-rugged IP67 housing

What if something goes missing?

For the more expensive assets you could use a GPS/GSM tracker which means it can always give you a location. Or you can set up instances such as if a vehicle was supposed to have a specified number of tools and then leaves the site, an alert could be sent with the last known location. If the last known location also has a gateway such as a site or another vehicle then the asset will show there.

Using a standard out of the box system will cover 80% of user cases if the system is built correctly, then the customisation element should be relatively inexpensive and integrating this with other systems should be straightforward.

Example Multi-site scenario

Imagine you have 50 vans and 10 sites all with a gateway and they have an 800 metre range. Your low-cost asset tracking system can become very accurate and cover a wide area.

Once this is in place you can then track and report on running hours, vibration and implement billing reports to show what tools were on what site and for how long. This information can then be used to provide better accuracy when invoicing external customers.

Getting Started

We are specialists in both off the shelf and custom-built asset management solutions and we’d love to offer you a free consultation to see what would work for your business. Contact us to find out more about tool tracking and book your consultation.